Saab's new 9-5 (2009) and independence latest

Published: 28 April 2009

Saab's new 9-5 continues testing – as the Swedish car maker continues to fight for its survival. These latest spy photos, taken yesterday at the Nurburgring circuit in Germany, are proof that Saab does finally have the new product for which its dealers are clamouring.

Pending the sale of Saab, the new 9-5 is due to be shown this autumn at the September 2009 Frankfurt motor show, ahead of a showroom launch in winter 2009-10. It's a step change for Saab's range-topper; after a decade of stagnation in the exec sector, the 9-5 is finally brought kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Our latest spy photos confirm a more low-slung style, with an especially noticeable fastback rear screen (a touring estate will also be offered later in 2010). We've previously reported how the wheelbase is said to be stretched by around 14cm to create extra cabin room compared with today's 12-year-old 9-5.

Twelve years old? That's well past its best-before date!

The current 9-5's geriatric appearance is symbolic of GM's mismanagement of Saab; new product has been scarce under GM's stewardship, with the occasional ill-conceived short-cut such as the 'Saabaru' and model refreshes rather than new launches of substance.

As part of GM's own financial problems, former chief exec Rick Wagoner has already committed to selling Saab. The car maker is currently under Swedish court protection from bankruptcy while it seeks independent backers. There are 'between six and eight interested parties,' a spokeswoman told CAR, and they're believed to range from rival manufacturers to private finance houses.

We should know within the next two months who (if any) are the preferred bidders – and the 9-5's launch is on hold until the new owners are found. The official told us the car was 'ready to go' and will be unveiled soon after the change of ownership.

There remain many hurdles to jump before Saab achieves its independence and some analysts doubt it can survive in the new tough global marketplace. Here's hoping they succeed with cars like the new 9-5 and potential 9-1 waiting in the wings.

New Saab 9-5: so what's under the metal?

GM might have turned its back on Saab, but this car was engineered under its watch – so the global Epsilon II architecture underpins the new 9-5. That means a similar engineering set-up to the Vauxhall Insignia, with the option of front- or four-wheel drive and the likelihood of turbocharged Aero models.

Downsized, four-cylinder turbo engines form the backbone of the engine line-up and – this is cuddly, enviro-conscious Saab, don't forget – eco-friendly E85 biofuels will be available.

>> Can Saab close the gap on the premium players? Click 'Add your comment' and let us know

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet